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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Too Stupid For Flirting, Too Nice To Get Arrested

Way back in the winter of 2004, I had my apartment to myself. I was taking a long break from relationships, and my roommates were gone for the week because they were prone to having lives, whereas I wrote and, after another fast wreck of a relationship, wasn't really big on human interaction.

But being a hermit only goes so far.

It should also be noted that, back then, I smoked cigarettes. I had a second story apartment in an old brownstone from the 1800s. When I smoked, I would walk downstairs, stand outside, and just observe people. I could figure out who the regulars were in the neighborhood, patterns, and schedules. When people left and came home from work; who had "Casual Fridays" in the office, by what they wore throughout the week; who walked to the gym; who stumbled back from the bar at 4 am - the list goes on.

During this particular weekend, it was snowing. the gently, thick snowfall was piling up, and I would go downstairs to shovel off the porch and our stretch of sidewalk, to avoid fines from the city. My weekend consisted of writing, reading, and watching the occasional movie. As stated, my roommates were gone for the weekend, so going over routines and bouncing around ideas was not in the picture.

By Sunday, I was going a bit stir crazy. A live conversation was beginning to look like a pretty good idea. Maybe someone other than the cashier at my grocery store. I was winter. There are no places nearby in my location. Even meeting up with friends at "the restaurant next door" involved a long walk in inclement weather.

So I put on a nice suit, gathered all of the social skills I could muster, and...ordered a pizza.

Everything else went as planned. I picked out a DVD (this was 2004, after all), the pizza arrived, and the snow had finally stopped. The pizza was still incredibly hot, so I let it cool while I went back downstairs for a cigarette.

While I was smoking, a young woman walked by. I'd seen here walking around before, and we would smile and exchange polite-yet-meaningless pleasantries. Today, she walked by, smiled, and then slowed down to ask a question I had never expected.

"Hey, what are you up to?"

I responded with the truth. I had a pizza upstairs, and I was going to watch a movie. The second question was more forward than the first.

"Would you like some company?"

Possibly? I mean, I wanted human contact, and making a new friend was not a bad idea. I invited her upstairs.

I fetched some plates from the kitchen, and brought them to the living room. I apologized for being rather boring with my pizza topping selection, and asked her if she had ever seen Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Idle, but friendly conversation.

Then the conversation started to get awkward.

"So what do you like do do?"

I was eating pizza and watching a movie. I have the entire apartment to myself. I guess I like making new friends, writing, and playing games. She hadn't taken a flirtatious tone, so I was trying to keep the conversation friendly and harmless. It just seemed like an odd question, at the time.

I started the movie and told her to help herself to the pizza. I also let her have seating on the futon, while I took the chair. Her plate remained empty. She wasn't even really watching the movie. Then, after another few minutes, she asked me to hit the pause button.

"Look, you seem like a nice guy, but nether of us is going to get what they want," she said, as she pulled out her police badge. She continued.

"Someone in this neighborhood is paying for sex, and we've been trying to find out who it is."

I had to respond.

"So...no pizza and a movie? No making new friends?"

She smiled and shook her head, "Not tonight, but thanks for not being any trouble."

I let her out, watched her leave, and tried to wrap my head around what just happened.

I'm too nice to be a threat. Too boring to make friends. But hey, I had (at that point) cold pizza and the futon all to myself.

I never did see the police officer again, so I'm assuming she caught the right person, or they put someone else in her place, because she was recognizable. Either way, it felt like the world had given me a backhanded compliment.


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